Greg Stiemsma has ‘big plans’ for Celtics playoffs
|04.19.12 at 2:56 am ET|
When the Celtics reflect on their 2011-12 season — which saw them capture a fifth Atlantic Division crown Wednesday night despite a variety of injuries throughout the campaign — they might ask themselves, “How did we pull that off?”
Sure, they benefited from a renaissance season from Kevin Garnett, enjoyed Rajon Rondo‘s streak of 23 straight games with 10 or more assists and saw a rather unexpected growth from Avery Bradley. Then there’s the ascension of Greg Stiemsma.
Stiemsma didn’t begin seeing extended playing time until the second half of the season. In January, he was buried on Doc Rivers‘ bench and only averaged just over seven minutes. That number sky-rocketed to 18 minutes in March, and then 20 in April, due to season-ending injuries to Chris Wilcox and Jermaine O’Neal.
Still, despite the uneven playing time, Stiemsma is averaging 1.56 blocks per game this season, which ranks him 15th in the entire league, and second among all rookies (The seventh overall pick in last year’s draft, Bismack Biyombo, ranks first). Not bad for a training camp invitee.
Stiemsma’s story is one of the more gratifying aspects of this season’s Celtics squad. “I love him,” Doc Rivers said. “I just love that kid. He’s just a great spirit. He’s doing everything for us.”
An endearing part of his story is that Stiemsma remains clearly appreciative of what it took to get here.
“We’re getting serious,” Stiemsma said. “We know we have big plans and big goals. And I couldn’t pick a better group of guys to be in it with. The experience these guys have, their willingness to teach — all of this stuff has been leading up to this moment. I’m looking forward to going through this experience with them.”
Who would have thought, in what may be the Big Three’s last stand, a 26 year-old rookie who spent the last three years playing for Sioux Falls in the D-League would be prominently involved? More telling is that the future Hall of Famers seem to have no reservations about playing with Stiemsma.
‘The Stiemmroller,’ Celtics captain Paul Pierce said earlier this season. ‘That’s my man. He got himself to the league, and now I’m going to keep him here. He’s going to have a 10-year career. Just rebound, set picks and block shots — and know the plays. And get paid.’